Lawmakers in Mexico's lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, passed a bill on Wednesday night that would make recreational marijuana legal in the country.
The measure, approved with a vote of 316-129, would allow adults to smoke marijuana and grow a limited number of cannabis plants at home with a permit and grant licenses for producers to grow and sell marijuana. Individual lawmakers are now discussing revisions to the bill, but the final version is likely to be approved by the Senate. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has indicated he supports the measure.
"Today we are in a historic moment," Simey Olvera, a lawmaker from the Morena Party, said. "With this, the false belief that cannabis is part of Mexico's serious health problems is left behind."
More than 120 million people live in Mexico, and if the bill is signed into law, it will make the country the world's largest marijuana market, based on population. In 2018, Mexico's Supreme Court ruled that the ban on recreational marijuana was unconstitutional, and in January, three years after medicinal cannabis use was legalized, the Mexican health ministry published regulation rules.
Recent polling shows that almost two-thirds of Mexico's population is opposed to legalizing marijuana, The New York Times reports, and critics say this new bill likely wouldn't do anything to stop violence committed by drug traffickers, who focus more on methamphetamines and fentanyl. Activists are also wary, believing that the growing permits will mostly go to the rich, freezing out small farmers.